Critics’ Picks

View of “Mirror Me,” 2009.

View of “Mirror Me,” 2009.

New York

“Mirror Me”

178 Norfolk Street
July 30–August 23, 2009

Conversations between Brandon Stosuy and Kai Althoff about repulsion and fandom led to “Mirror Me,” a summer exhibition in three cumulative parts. Stosuy first invited Philip Best and Peter Sotos, both at one time members of the power-electronics group Whitehouse, to show works. In each of Best’s collages, violent or apocalyptic magazine images are pasted up according to a grid. Chicago-based writer Sotos contributed punishing videos of televised brutality and pornography.

For the next phase, Lionel Maunz’s heraldic black resin sculptures of ritualistic implements began changing the gallery into a ceremonial site, fully realized in the exhibition’s third installment. For this movement, Stosuy and Althoff each stake out a teeming “bedroom.” Maunz sculpted a nestlike bed for Althoff’s half, and Althoff made new paintings onsite. The collaborators added works by Matteah Baim, Adam Helms, and others. Mixed in is the detritus (a urine-encrusted chalice, mini-pastries, bandages, candles) from the final installment’s opening. That night, Stosuy received a tattoo from Scott Campbell while Hunter Hunt-Hendrix (from the New York band Liturgy) performed; visitors entered the gallery in twos and threes or watched from the sidewalk until the evening ended in the ritual cutting of a participant.

In the background of the final installment, a tape recorder plays Stosuy and Althoff's reading of their e-mail correspondences on black metal and the ethics and aesthetics of the Norwegian musician and convicted murderer Varg Vikernes. Stosuy and Althoff discuss Vikernes’s release from prison this year, and despite the inevitable diminishment said freedom will have on the cult hero’s mysterious appeal, Vikernes remains a focus of obsession and desire for both men. The fascination of “Mirror Me” is its incarnation of the claustrophobia and messy upheaval of a real dialectic.